DVD Review: Troll Hunter [M15]

Dir: André Øvredal
Cast: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen.

The Film:
When I first heard about TROLL HUNTER, I started to become really excited. I thought that it was the long-awaited follow up to my all time favourite so-bad-it’s-good film TROLL 2, which I imagined the story was about how the character of Michael Waits decided to hunt down and take revenge on the Goblins who both terrified his family as well as pissing on hospitality. As I sat down to watch it, I quickly discovered to my disappointment that wasn’t a sequel to TROLL 2 at all, which I was pretty bummed out by. However what I did end up getting instead was rather unique found-footage horror film from Norway. Since I am a big fan of found-footage films, it definitely peaked my interest.

The film tells the story of three university students named Thomas, Johnna and Kalle (Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck and Tomas Alf Larsen) who decide for a class project make a documentary on the mysterious and strange killings of some bears in their local area. While interviewing some local hunters and policemen about the killings they start to take notice of one bear hunter in particular by the name of Hans (Otto Jespersen), who mysteriously has appeared at every single one of the murder sites. Believing that he may know what’s going on with the killings, the students try to get an interview Hans but he tells them to go away. However one night, the students decide to follow Hans and see what he is up to. When they follow him to some nearby woods, they start to hear some mysterious sounds and roars from some really large animal. But they are shocked to discover that the sounds are not from any normal animal but from a troll. They also find out who Hans really is: he isn’t a bear hunter, but actually a troll hunter working by the Norwegian government to keep the troll population under control. After learning his secret, Hans reluctantly decides to let the students tag along and film his hunts for their documentary.

As someone who has seen many found-footage horror films in my time I always have to give credit to one that at lest tries to do something different, whether it would be with the actual format itself or the topic it decides to tackle. While from a filmmaking standpoint TROLL HUNTER doesn’t really do anything new or different that we haven’t seen done before, but what makes it far more interesting and fresh than most found-footage films is the fact that it is doing a film on something that we haven’t seen done in quite a while: which, of course, is the subject of trolls (and no, TROLL 2 doesn’t count lol). Writer/director André Øvredal has made film that is both quite well made and really entertaining. Both his direction and screenplay were quite well done. One of the things I liked most about the film was its visual look. Despite it being a found-footage film, Øvredal gives it a scope that feels like that it is a much bigger and grander than it is (the last time I can think of a found-footage film being like that was CLOVERFIELD). The cinematography is also another highlight, as it wonderfully captures the beautiful country side of Norway. Also I really liked how Øvredal incorporates mythological aspects that we know about trolls in the film in both interesting and creative ways (examples including trolls being afraid of sunlight, smelling the scent of Christian blood etc.), plus he even makes references to fairy tales that featured them as well (there is one set-piece where Hans hunts for a troll at a bridge, which of course, is reference to the story of the THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF). The cast all do a solid job but for me the stand-out turn was Otto Jespersen who played “Hans”. He gave a really good performance and I enjoyed every scene he was in. However the real stars of the film are definitely the troll themselves: while the CGI isn’t up to the standards that we have seen in bigger budgeted Hollywood films, but they were still surprisingly good nonetheless. Also the designs of the trolls are all terrific. Every single one was designed extremely well, which makes each one of the different species of troll feel very unique and different. Every scene with the trolls were all very well staged and directed, particularly the film’s final scene.

In terms of negatives while the film only goes for over 100 minutes, I feel that it could have easily been trimmed by 10-15 minutes. The reason being is that the film’s pace can be rather slow and sluggish at times, plus there are a couple of scenes that drag on for way too long. Like I said before it isn’t a long film, but it’s because of those aspects that it started to feel long while I was watching it. If the filmmakers shaved off a couple of minutes it would have been a much tighter and better paced film. Also the film does start to get bit repetitive at times with its plot (after the set-up, we basically go from one troll hunt to another) and even though I was entertained by what was happening, I didn’t find the film scary at all.

Overall despite those flaws,TROLL HUNTER was still a both a fun and very creative film that I think every horror fan should check out. I know that there are some people out who aren’t fans of the found footage genre, but I think if you give it a chance you may enjoy it as well. It isn’t perfect but it’s a pretty good film nonetheless.

The Australian DVD:
Extras: (unpreviewed)
* Deleted scenes
* Improvs and bloopers
* Extended scenes
* Visual effects featurette
* Behind-the-scenes featurette
* Photo galleries
* HDNet: A look at TROLL HUNTER

Rating:

Click here to purchase the DVD via MadMan

– Bede Jermyn

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